The Latest Attack in the War on Women's Health
Lately, it seems like women's health and freedom are being attacked daily. Today, that attack comes in the form of a new rule in Texas that eliminates state funding for Planned Parenthood and other clinics that are affiliated with abortion providers.
This rule is in direct violation of federal law, which says that only patients-not state officials-can decide which provider is best for themselves and their families. Because the new rule violates this law, the federal government announced on Thursday that Texas will no longer receive federal funding that last year provided about $39 million for the Women's Health Program.
The Women's Health Program, which is Texas's Medicaid family planning program, provides care to about 130,000 Texas women between the ages of 18 and 44 who earn less than $20,000 a year, or less than $41,000 for a family of four. The program covers family planning exams, related health screenings, and birth control. Before the rule, Texas was only responsible for footing 10 percent of the bill, and the federal government picked up the rest of the tab.
Rick Perry claims that the state will make up this immense loss by funding the program with money from other parts of the budget, and he refuses to raise revenue to cover the loss. Unfortunately, Perry has already slashed $73 million from the state's family planning budget. Combined with Thursday's cut in federal funding, that's a loss of more than $100 million for essential women's health services.
Currently, more than 40 percent of all services in the Women's Health Program are provided by Planned Parenthood-the rule's primary target. So, unfortunately for Texas women and families, even if there were enough state dollars to fund the program, without Planned Parenthood, there would not be enough providers to meet women's needs.
But here's the biggest problem with all of this: The Women's Health Program never funded abortions in Texas because federal law already prohibits Planned Parenthood from using government funds for abortions. And let's not forget the now-famous chart that revealed the truth about the services that Planned Parenthood delivers. Critical cancer prevention and screening services, STD testing, and contraception account for 86 percent of Planned Parenthood's work. In contrast, abortions account for a mere 3 percent of the services that they deliver. Clearly, this rule misses its mark if its real goal is to prevent abortions.
On top of everything, 59 percent of Texas voters oppose the new rule and believe the Women's Health Program should be left alone.
The war on women's health wages on across the country. With this new rule in Texas-and with Arizona on the verge of passing similar legislation to defund Planned Parenthood-lawmakers continue to attack women's health by limiting women's freedom to decide what is best for their families and themselves.